Women in the gym tend to steer clear of anything that involves lifting weights. If you’ve ever been to one, you’ve probably noticed that. Maybe you’re a woman yourself. When someone suggests that you start lifting, the first thing you think is that you don’t want to bulk up and start looking too manly.
The truth is, women that lift are going to have a difficult time gaining large muscle mass. Those that you see that are ripped right out have worked extremely hard in overdrive for quite some time to get that appearance. You can lift weights without doing that. Instead, you’re going to build up lean muscle. There are a plethora of reasons why women should be building lean muscle for their overall health, not to mention feeling better about themselves.
Instead of running the other way when someone suggests working out in the weight room, know what the benefits are and get in there and join them!
What is Lean Muscle?
When you think about muscle in terms of working out, the first image that most likely comes to mind are those big, beefy, buffed out men and women that you see in powerlifting competitions and strutting around the gym. They look like they’re ready to bust the seams in their clothes at any given minute. While it’s great that they are in such peak physical condition, if you’re like a lot of women, you don’t have any interest in looking like that.
Lean muscle is just like it sounds. It’s when your muscles are slim and not surrounded by extra body fat. Your body fat will build up on top of tissues, and when using energy, your body is going to work on those fat cells first.
The somewhat disappointing part is that you can’t get rid of fat cells, they only get smaller. However, when the energy is used up in those fat cells, and they shrink down, your body will then start building lean muscle. That’s when you start getting stronger, and toning can be seen in your appearance.
Benefits of Building Muscle Mass Includes Being Stronger
Think about all the daily activities of life that you have to accomplish regularly. There’s probably a whole list of things you have to get done from the time you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night.
- Take care of children
- Working a job
- Spending time with friends and family
Do you ever feel exhausted halfway through the day? That’s because your body isn’t strong enough to keep up with all the physical activity. Even if you aren’t working out, you are still moving around. You need strength to do that. Through building lean muscle, you’re going to be able to get through each task much more comfortably.
By building muscle, you’ll notice a natural shift in your energy levels. When you used to be tired by lunchtime before, now you’ll be able to make it through dinner and even beyond with loads of energy left. You’ll want to go out and enjoy life a little bit more. Maybe take the kids to the water park or spend a day hiking with your husband. When you feel stronger on the inside, it’s going to come through in every facet of your life on the outside.
Weight Lifting for Women Increases Bone Density
It’s no secret that women are at risk for osteoporosis. On average, research suggests that women lose about 1% of their muscle mass each year after the age of 30. If you’re not working out and building that lean muscle mass, those numbers can reach 3-8% each year. That means a higher risk for suffering from the effects of osteoporosis along with a decrease in stability and strength and an increase in weight.
Just because you are increasing your bone density, it doesn’t mean you’re going to look big and buff, so don’t worry about that. Your building muscles and tendons around the bones as well making yourself stronger all around. Also, keep in mind that building up bone density takes time. In fact, it can take years to accomplish, especially if you were incredibly out of shape to start with. Make it a lifetime commitment to keep working at it.
Lean Muscle Boosts Metabolism and Burns Fat
Doing an aerobic exercise or cardio routine ensures your body is burning calories while you are in the process of working out. Strength training is a bit different. Instead of your body stopping when the workout does, it continues to burn calories. It can include while you’re sleeping and even up until the next time you work out!
This idea is often referred to as a resting metabolic rate or RMR. The process for figuring out what your RMR is can be rather extensive. It depends on several different factors including your age, weight, exercise routine, and nutrition intake. The higher your RMR is, the more calories you will be burning while resting. In turn, you are going to lose weight and build muscle mass without having to even be in the gym.
That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to work out again so don’t confuse the idea. You have to keep your exercise activity in place to keep the rate where it’s at or boost it up. By doing those exercises, you are building up the amount of energy your body needs at rest or your metabolic rate. That means you’re burning more fat. The excess fat will burn off because of the lean muscle. As soon as you stop with your routine, those numbers are going to start to drop again. You’ll be right back where you started at.
More Muscle Means Better Posture
Do you slouch in an office chair all day long? Maybe you work a physical job, but you still know that you have terrible posture. Not only does it make you look somewhat like a humpback after years of not sitting up straight or walking properly, but it’s awful for your health. Bad posture can directly affect your:
What happens when these areas are negatively impacted? Perhaps the biggest problem is the pain that inevitably comes. There is going to be a reduction in your flexibility, and your joints are going to suffer as well. That’s when you start feeling discomfort in your back, knees, and other parts of the body.
With more muscle, you’re automatically going to sit or stand in a more upright position. The strength created in the neck, shoulders, and back are going to support you and keep the shoulders blades in place. Not only will you feel better because the pain is not as intense, but you will also look better. Standing up straight has a slimming effect on your appearance. If you don’t believe it, stand in a mirror and see for yourself. After you do it, you’ll realize just how much of a difference it makes.
Why Build Muscle? For Confidence!
Whether you are trying to lose weight or just build and tone a touch, strength training is the way to get there. Have you ever seen a demonstration of the difference between 10 pounds of muscle and 10 pounds of fat? Now think about how that makes your body look if you are struggling. As soon as you burn some of that fat down and start toning muscle, it’s going to change your outlook in a big way.
There’s a chain reaction that occurs within your mind and body. Usually, it takes a couple of weeks to get the feeling that you are succeeding. When it happens, you aren’t ever going to want to look back.
If you’ve always had problems with your body image, when you start getting stronger on the inside, it’s going to make you feel better on the outside. That’s correct. Working out has benefits to even your mental health! Even if you don’t look like a supermodel, you’re going to know that you’re working toward your goals and it’s going to push you to work harder to reach them.
Some of the ways building lean muscle can benefit your mental health include:
- Sharper judgment skills
- Better learning and thinking abilities
- Reduced risk of depression and anxiety
- Ability to sleep better
- More self-confidence
- Greater self-image and self-worth
So, if you are thinking of visiting a medical doctor or psychiatrist for struggles that you are having internally, consider hitting the gym instead. Research says that if you work out for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week, you’re going to be able to reap the benefits listed above. Can you imagine feeling better about your life without having to sit and talk uncomfortably with a counselor or pop pills that could be potentially addictive?
The endorphins that get released during and after the workout are going to give you exactly what you want without ever having to take any extreme measures. Not to mention the fact that you’re helping your body in all the other ways we’ve already discussed! How can you go wrong?
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being one of the best chiropractors in Anchorage after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers.
Chapter 2: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2018, from Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter2.aspx
Department of Exercise Science Quincy College. (2012, July). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22777332
Hathaway, B. (2015, March 2). Study: New fat cells are created quickly, but dieting can’t eliminate them. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from YaleNews: https://news.yale.edu/2015/03/02/study-new-fat-cells-are-created-quickly-dieting-cant-eliminate-them
Kelly, P. M. (n.d.). Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It—And Raise It, Too. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from Ace Fitness: https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2882/resting-metabolic-rate-best-ways-to-measure-it-and/
Physical Activity and Health. (2015, June 4). Retrieved July 31, 2018, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
Walts, C. T., Hanson, E. D., Delmonico, M. J., Yao, L., Want, M. Q., & Hurley, B. F. (2010, November 24). Do Sex or Race Differences Influence Strength Training Effects on Muscle or Fat? Retrieved July 31, 2018, from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991130/